Brad Cox trainees dominate Louisiana Derby day at Fair Grounds

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Wells Bayou led gate to wire to win the $1 million Grade II Louisiana Derby Saturday, in what will be the final day of the winter meet at a fan-free Fair Grounds Race Course.

Wells Bayou, with Florent Geroux aboard, paid $8.40 to win as the tepid 3-1 favorite. NY Traffic was second and Modernist was third.

Owned by the partnership of Clint Gasaway, Lance Gasaway, Madaket Stables, and Wonder Stables, Wells Bayou took home $600,000 for the victory and increased his career earnings to more than $845,000 with his third victory from five starts.

The Louisiana Derby was run at a mile and three sixteenths for the first time. Wells Bayou covered the distance in 1:56.47.

Trainer Brad Cox, who conditions Wells Bayou, took home three of the four Grade II stakes on Saturday’s card, also winning the Muniz Memorial Classic on turf with pace-setting Factor This, who had Shaun Bridgmohan aboard, and the Fair Grounds Oaks with late-closing Bonny South, who was also ridden by Geroux.

As the biggest prep race for the Kentucky Derby run to date, Wells Bayou earned 100 points for the victory, which virtually ensures the son of Lookin at Lucky a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. Ordinarily, that would have been six weeks away, but Churchill Downs announced earlier this week that the Kentucky Derby would be run on Sept. 5.

In the other Grade II stakes, 2019 Louisiana Derby winner By My Standards took the New Orleans Classic for trainer Bret Calhoun with Gabriel Saez up.

Outside of Wells Bayou, it was a tough day for the favorites in the graded stakes, most notably 0.30-1 favorite Finite in the Fair Grounds Oaks, who briefly took the lead at the top of the stretch but faded to finish fourth. Fearless, the betting choice in the New Orleans Classic, and Instilled Regard, the public’s pick in the Muniz, both finished sixth.

In other stakes on the 12-race card, She’sonthewarpath captured the Tom Benson Memorial Stakes, Monte Man took home the Costa Rising Stakes, Sydster claimed the Crescent City Derby and Vacherie Girl won the Crescent City Oaks.

The Gentilly track announced Saturday afternoon that, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and citing Mayor LaToya Cantrell’s “stay-home” order issued Friday, it was ending its meet five days early. The meet was originally scheduled to run through March 29.

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Lenny Vangilder

Lenny Vangilder

Sales/Content/Production

Lenny was involved in college athletics starting in the early 1980s, when he began working Tulane University sporting events while still attending Archbishop Rummel High School. He continued that relationship as a student at Loyola University, where he graduated in 1987. For the next 11 years, Vangilder worked in the sports information offices at Southwestern Louisiana (now UL-Lafayette) and Tulane;…

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